The Los Angeles Heat Wave Could Be a Big Deal

A $50,000 electric bill? The cost of cooling L.A.’s biggest houses in a heat wave was about $1,000, a spokesman for the Department of Water and Power said Monday. There are as many as eight homes so equipped in the area.

By David Ingram

LOS ANGELES TIMES | July 31, 2013

A $50,000 electric bill? The cost of cooling L.A.’s biggest houses in a heat wave was about $1,000, a spokesman for the Department of Water and Power said Monday. There are as many as eight homes so equipped in the area.

“It’s a very extreme situation,” said Paul Cottrell, assistant director of public affairs for the department.

“We’re trying to reduce the need for air conditioning as much as possible,” he said. “There are some homes in the area where our air conditioners were activated for a short period of time because of the conditions,” but that was only done “if it was necessary,” Cottrell said.

The Department of Water and Power, which distributes the water that customers are supposed to use to cool their houses, has seen a decline over the past few years in the number of customers using a typical air conditioner unit to cool the air, Cottrell said.

The situation may not get even worse until “spring or early summer,” he added.

The problem is that the peak heating and air conditioning season is winter, and “we’re not able to do a lot of those house upgrades that would solve the problem,” Cottrell said.

Some homeowners have turned to electricity from the grid when they can’t cool their homes. “But it’s still more expensive than electricity from a central air source that could be run more efficiently,” Cottrell said.

The Department of Water and Power is planning to reduce the number of times the units are turned on, Cottrell said.

The problem is that the peak heating season is in late June and early July, when homes are used most often to air condition, and that the Department of Water and Power has no plans to turn on the units on its water mains to cool the water that is pumped into water mains for distribution by homes when

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